I have been very lucky to have a rather wonderful garden visitor – the humble hedgehog. It was, in fact, the first hog I had ever seen in Manchester, despite keeping my eyes peeled!
This particular critter had been visiting my garden for a couple of weeks. It had been duly rewarded with bowls of cat food to keep its strength up in the hot weather. I recognised it from the tufts of hair missing from its face.
Since writing the article I have been following various hog charities up and down the UK. I am now aware of the many perils that our prickly pals face including cars, lawnmowers, starvation, habitat loss, flystrike, bonfires and other perils such as litter and netting.
When we had our third sighting of the hog, he/she had patches of spittle-like patches of white flecks on its spines and this rang alarm bells for me. I also spotted a couple of tics but not enough to put the hedgehog in danger.
This was on a Sunday night so I called the Withington Hedgehog Hospital in Manchester for advice. Wendy told me told that the white paint-like patches were indeed flystrike. Luckily she came to collect it as our car was parked in town. Whilst I waited for her, I took her advice and kept the hog cool as heat can hatch the eggs which will eat the hedgehog alive.
I used a toothbrush to remove as many of the eggs as possible as you can see below. This is very difficult they are very good at hiding! It is also important to keep the hog dry. Hogs are good at escaping so a covered box is best.
Another sad reality for hedgehogs is that they aren’t released into gardens anymore. This is due to the risks they face from poisoning, starvation and garden accidents. As an endangered species they are now released into viable populations where they a better chance of breeding and survival.
If you see a hedgehog in the daytime or one that you think might be sick or injured do not hesitate to contact your local rescue centre. Hedgehogs should not be out in the day as this is a bad sign. Rescue centres will be happy to nurse it back to health if possible – do not wait until is it too late!